The Colts were a staple in the city of Baltimore for a very long time until they upped and moved over to the state of Indiana in 1984. In 1953 the then Baltimore version of the team held its first draft and as many expansion teams do they began with a quarterback with the first pick. That man was Adrian Burk from Baylor. The Colts would eventually win a Super Bowl in Baltimore and then in Indianapolis. But the early history through the 1960s saw a team that was staunch defensively. On offense behind Johnny Unitas’s arm and a rugged ground game, this Colts team was shocked and upset by a guaranteed win from the New York Jets’ Joe Namath in Super Bowl III. The Colts were heavy favorites for the NFL who had easily won the first two Super Bowls behind the play of the Green Bay Packers.
The Colts had a slew of great players led by Johnny Unitas who was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers but they gave up on him and he was scooped up by the Colts. As for the history of first-round picks in Baltimore and Indianapolis, the first big splash the Colts made came in 1956 when Lenny Moore was drafted after playing college ball at Penn State. In 1967 it was a big man named Bubba Smith who came aboard and eventually would land a starring role in the movie Police Academy. Many know the story of the 1983 draft when the Colts drafted John Elway but he refused to play for the Colts and after Baltimore selected him, he was traded to Denver. The first-round selections from 1994 to 1998 stand out for the Colts. Marshall Faulk came on board in ‘94, Marvin Harrison two years later, Tarik Glenn in 1997, Peyton Manning would be the NFL’s first overall pick in 1998, and then Edgerrin James was the first pick a year later. The Colts would go into the 2000s having some of the best first-round draft picks in the league. But as to who was the best, many names to pick from but it would have to be Peyton Manning.
Honorable Mentions: Tom Matte (1961), Mike Curtis (1965), Bert Jones (1973), Reggie Wayne (2001), Dwight Freeney (2002), Dallas Clark (2003), Andrew Luck (2012)